As 11 foreign ministers and representatives of some Syrian opposition groups met in London today to discuss the ongoing conflict in Syria and the upcoming Geneva talks, peace campaigners called for nonviolent solutions to the disastrous and bloody conflict.
The non-partisan demonstration ran from 10am to 6pm in Whitehall. It called on all parties – the Syrian government, opposition groups and international participants - to stop fuelling the conflict with supplies of arms and other military equipment.
"We believe that the peace negotiations should be led by the Syrian people themselves rather than foreign elites, who should only play a facilitating role," they declared.
To the Syrian government and all armed groups, the peace workers called for an indefinite ceasefire immediately; to cease all attacks against civilians – including peaceful protesters – and civilian infrastructure, like medical facilities; to immediately allow safe humanitarian access to all areas in need; and to recognise the detrimental effects of continued violence, especially on children and other civilians, and therefore urgently commit to political negotiations to end the conflict and prevent further destruction and loss of life, injury, psychological damage and displacement of people.
At the talks, Syria's moderate opposition was called upon to "commit itself fully" to planned peace talks by the so-called Friends of Syria group of countries.
The talks in Geneva in November offer Syrians of all persuasions the "best hope to improve their lives", UK Foreign Secretary William Hague argued.
Ahmad Jarba, head of the Western-backed opposition grouping, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), said his organisation would decide at a meeting next week whether to participate or not.
Pressure is also being put on the Americans not to block the Syrian and Iranian governments, since they are both critical to a solution.
* Contact Syria Peace: vd2012-syriapeace [at] yahoo.co.uk
* More from Ekklesia on Syria: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/syria